BUMMER. I was thrilled a documentary would tell the world about Tim DeChristopher. You might think his achievement would be more widely know. It’s a testament of the power he’s up against, added to the meager support he has received, that even here I have to explain who he is and what he did. Tired of the futility of outdoor protests to prevent BLM land sales to the extraction industry, Tim DeChristopher attended an auction of particularly dubious legitimacy and successfully thwarted it by posing as a bidder and buying many of the lots. This happened at the close of Bush’s presidency, but Obama’s administration pursued a successful prosecution. DeChristopher has just been released after serving two years in federal prison. The documentary “Bidder 70” recounts the ordeal in a manner that provides neither encouragement nor inspiration, and leaves me to question how DeChristopher might have been better represented in court, publicized in actions, and celebrated in film. To say Bidder 70 reduces Tim DeChristopher to a number distorts the idiom. No mere number, DeChristopher is the important but solitary number one, among a casualty count always rising. In the sea of ineffectual activism that prompted his improvisational escalation, DeChristopher emerges more singular than when he started, but that’s to judge based on a flawed documentary. Hardly an surprising result.
Tim DeChristopher, a University of Utah disobedient civilian, was interviewed on Democracy Now! today. Amy Goodman asked him what relevance Edward Abbey had to his move to disrupt the bidding process for oil and gas leases in Utah’s red rock country. Read more »
This is by no means a complete list of contemporary populist heros, but I’d like to start with comedian Stephen Colbert, who roasted President Bush at a Washington Correspondents Association Dinner, like a court jester gone rabid. With celebrated White House correspondent Helen Thomas’s help, Colbert belittled the decider-in-chief to his face right in front of his friends.
I am neither handy with a monkey-wrench, nor am I much of an outdoorsman, but when environmentalist Tim DeChristopher took the eco fight to a federal land lease auction, it was an example of disruptive activism for which I know I am qualified. There is an undisturbed comfort in thinking one person cannot make a difference, even if just in lacking for ideas how. Dare I say for most of us, now DeChristopher and Ebay have closed that loophole.